Generative Design

Academic year
Subject Area
Audio-visuals and media production
Language of Instruction
Other Languages of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
2nd Cycle Studies - Mestrado

Recommended Prerequisites

Average knowledge of design and programming.

Teaching Methods

The unit includes theoretical lectures where the fundamental concepts, principles and techniques and there are presented and explained in detail.

Lectures of practical nature play the role of strengthening the connection between theoretic knowledge and its practical application. To pursue this goal we focus on problem solving and on the analysis of case studies that require combining different theoretical concepts and that promote critical reasoning.

Learning Outcomes

In this curricular unit programming is understood and explored as a form of expression. Realizing that true literacy results from the ability of "reading" and "writing", the creator is understood as a designer of computational processes, becoming able to question existing models and of fully explore the possibilities of computational media.Key features of generative systems, processes and design are introduced and then explored in practical exercises. Through study and implementation students develop a ample analytical understanding and practical skills in the domain of generative design.

The main competencies to be developed are:

Instrumental – analysis and synthesis, problem solving

Personal – critical thinking

Systemic - practical application of the theoretical knowledge; research

The secondary competences are:

Instrumental – organizing and planning

Personal – work in teams

Systemic – autonomous learning; creativity.

Work Placement(s)



1. Introduction

1.1 Generative Systems and Design

1.2 Historical Perspective

1.3 Generative Design Culture

2 Properties of Generative Systems

2.1 Iteration

2.2 Structure

2.3 Recursion

2.4 Complexity

2.5 Unity

2. Methodologies for Generative Design

2.1 Generative Design Strategies

2.2 Parametric systems

2.3 Celular Automata

2.4 Particle Systems and Swarming

2.5 Self-Organization and Self-Assembly

2.6 Generative Grammars

2.7 Nature Inspired systems

3. Example Applications to Design

3.1 Critical Analysis

4. The Role of the Designer in Generative Design

4.1 Originality and Intent

4.2 Appropriation.

Head Lecturer(s)

Fernando Jorge Penousal Martins Machado

Assessment Methods

Resolution Problems: 20.0%
Research work: 20.0%
Synthesis work: 20.0%
Project: 40.0%


Karl Gerstner. Designing Programmes, 3rd ed, Lars Muller Publishers, 2007.

Elements of Parametric Design, Robert Woodbury, Routledge, 2010.

Lin Xianwei, Dynamic Logo, CYPI Press, 2013.

Helen Armstrong and  Zvezdana Stojmirovic. Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content. Princeton Architectural Press, 2013.

John Maeda, Design by Numbers, MIT Press, 2001.

Hartmut Bohnacker, Benedikt Groß, Julia Laub and Claudius Lazzeroni, Generative Design: Visualize, Program, and Create with Processing: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.

Hollis, R., The designer as programmer, Eye Magazine, 43, 2002.

Lehni, J., Teaching in the spaces between code and design, Eye Magazine, 81, 2011.

Reas, C., McWilliams, C., and LUST. Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture: Princeton Architectural Press. 2010